November is National Family Caregiver Month

Recognized by President Clinton when he signed the first proclamation in 1997, National Family Caregiver’s Month has been proclaimed by an American President annually ever since. Many states and dozens of local municipalities have also proclaimed November, NFC Month.

Day in and day out, more than 75 million family caregivers in this country fulfill a vital role in caring for elderly, aging parents. Click the link above to learn more about the role that caregivers play and why this month especially, we should join together to celebrate and recognize them.

 

 

 

 

 


The Unexpected Costs of Caring for an Aging Parent

According to data collected by the National Alliance for Caregiving, there are over 66 million family caregivers in the United States. That translates to nearly 40 percent of the U.S. adult population…a stunning statistic. This number includes people who are caring for the sick or disabled, but the majority of these caregivers are assisting an elderly family member.

Other than a spouse, the most common people to be tasked with caring for an elderly loved one are adult children. In fact, a study conducted by MetLife showed that 10 million adult children over age 50 were acting as a caregiver for their aging parent(s), a number that equals approximately a quarter of all Baby Boomers.

These caregivers are helping their loved ones with everything from running errands and meal preparation to dressing, bathing, and using the toilet. In certain cases, families are able to outsource some or all of these tasks to a paid caregiver; other families are unable to afford this option or believe it is their duty to care for their aging parents.

A large majority of seniors hope to stay in their own home for as long as possible–a concept referred to as “aging in place.” There’s a common perception that this is the most cost-effective option for seniors, and some people choose this route because they hope to save money to eventually leave to their adult children. But the reality is that, depending on the level of care that a person needs as they age and if they develop health issues, staying in the home can become very costly to their grown children, in more ways than one.

The hard costs of caregiving

If you choose to take on an elderly parent’s care (or have no other option), there are potentially many costs associated with becoming an unpaid caregiver. There is the emotional cost–caring for a sick or elderly person can be extremely stressful and mentally draining. There’s also a physical cost–the strain on the body can leave you with sore muscles in additional to general exhaustion. But one of the sometimes-unforeseen costs of becoming a caregiver is the financial impact on the adult child.

When taking on the caregiver role, adult children often have to reduce their hours at work or even quit their job altogether, thus slashing their personal income. Add to that the loss of pension earnings and Social Security benefits, and according to the MetLife study, adult-child caregivers in the U.S. suffer a cumulative loss of nearly $3 trillion in earnings. For sons, the average in lost income is $283,716 per person. The news is even worse for daughters, who lose an average of $324,044 in earnings as a result of their caregiving responsibilities.

In addition to the hit to their income, caregivers may find themselves simultaneously taking on extra expenses. On average, family members serving as caregivers are spending nearly $7,000 of their own money each year on their loved one’s expenses–helping cover the cost of things like medical bills, utilities, and food.

Jeopardizing your own retirement

But perhaps the biggest unforeseen cost that many adult children pay when they become an aging parent’s caregiver is the hit to their retirement savings. That loss can come in two forms.

First, working less, making less money, and increasing expenses frequently means that the caregiver has little left over at the end of the month and is thus contributing less (or nothing) to their retirement savings account. And this savings deficit often comes at an inopportune time. According to the Family Caregiver Alliance, the average age of an adult child serving as caregiver is 49.2. Many people anticipate bolstering their savings during their 50s, since they have perhaps paid off a large part of their house and gotten the kids through college. This scenario makes taking on caregiver responsibilities in your late 40s or early 50s rather badly timed.

The second way that caregiving can be detrimental to adult children’s future retirement is that it is not uncommon for people to dip into their savings in order to pay those previously mentioned additional expenses–using their own nest egg dollars to compensate for their lost income and help pay for mom and dad’s costs. This is an ill-advised decision, but some people have no other choice in order to make ends meet during this period of reduced or eliminated income and increased care expenses.

Funding aging parents’ care

If you choose to become a caregiver to your aging parent (or have no other option), here are a few ways to manage their care and expenses while looking out for your own long-term financial security (and mental and physical health).

  • Find out if there is a long-term care insurance policy, which may provide financial assistance for certain care services.
  • Check to see if there are any government programs that your parent is eligible for, such as Medicaid, veteran’s, or disability benefits.
  • Look at your parents’ expenses (as well as your own) and determine if there are simple cost-cutting opportunities such as a less expensive cable package or fewer meals out. Do anything you can to avoid dipping into your own retirement savings.
  • Enlist the help of siblings or other family members, both financially and time-wise. No one person can care for another full-time with no breaks.
  • Consider if it might be more cost-effective to hire a home care worker to assist your parent so that you can continue to work or can at least take less time off.

Preparing for your aging parents’ future

Having a crystal ball would come in handy in so many life situations but perhaps none more so than knowing what will happen as a person ages. It’s this unknown that can create so much stress as our parents grow older and we must make decisions about their care. This is why I strongly encourage adult children to have a frank discussion with their parents about their long-term living situation and their potential care needs down the road.

It’s also why some seniors consider the possibility of moving to a retirement community such as a continuing care retirement community (CCRC, also known as a life plan community), which offers residents a full continuum of care services, if and when needed. Yes, on the surface, CCRCs can seem expensive and some much more pricey than others, but the peace of mind they offer to both the aging parent as well as the adult child may just turn out to be priceless.

 

 

 

For Digital Use (please use the exact hyperlink):

The above article was written by Brad Breeding of myLifeSite and is legally licensed for use.

 

 

 

 


Tip #19 of 50 – What About the Dog?

As The Wesley Communities approach 50 years of excellent service, our CEO Peg Carmany offers “Peg’s Perspective” on a variety of topics affecting seniors and their adult children as they plan and choose to age well – 50 tips to celebrate 50 years!

Tip # 19 of 50 –  What about my pet?

If you are a senior living on your own, or if you are the adult child of a senior living on their own, and moving to a retirement community is under consideration one very important question may be: but what about the dog? Or, what about the cat? Oftentimes, this beloved pet has been part of the family for many years, and seems like a real obstacle when it comes to making a move.

The good news is this: many retirement communities not only allow pets, they encourage them! Click the link above to learn more about why a pet needn’t be an obstacle when considering a retirement community.

 

 

 


Boomers Can Achieve Better Health with Super Foods

Super foods. The name alone evokes images of capped heroes, swooping in to save the day. But are these foods really worthy of such superlative nomenclature? And are the health benefits to seniors all they are cracked up to be? For some of these foods, the answer is a resounding “Yes!” But for others, recent studies have given mixed reviews.

What makes a food “super”?

The trademark of most of the super foods is that they are packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber, “good” fats, and/or lean protein. On top of that, many are loaded with antioxidants. Diets rich in antioxidants are frequently associated with the prevention of cancer, inflammation, neurodegenerative diseases, and cardiovascular disease–all issues of concern as we age.

Super foods with health benefits for seniors

Berries 

Many varieties of berries are high in vitamins, fiber, and flavonoid–a powerful antioxidant that boasts anti-inflammatory and cancer-fighting immune system benefits. In addition to berries’ antioxidant properties, a 2013 research study out of the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston showed that women who ate three or more servings of blueberries and strawberries each week reduced their risk of heart attack by up to one-third. Another berry, avocado (yep, it’s a berry!) is also high in blood pressure-controlling potassium, lutein for eye health, and monounsaturated fat, which is the “good” kind that helps lower bad cholesterol.

Dark chocolate 

When it comes to this bittersweet indulgence, moderation is the key. While dark chocolate is rich in antioxidant flavonoids, it is also high in fat and calories. A few morsels here and there can have cancer-fighting benefits, but too much will result in weight gain, which has numerous negative effects on seniors’ health. Stick to the higher percentages of cacao as these varieties usually have a higher concentration of flavonoids but have less added sugar.

Kale 

Kale and other dark green leafy vegetables are renowned for their low calorie/high fiber content, while also providing vitamins A, C, E, and potassium. But it is kale’s abundance of carotenoid, an antioxidant that protects cells and may help halt the early stages of cancer, that escalates it to the super food category. In fact, studies have shown that eating two to three servings of green leafy vegetables like kale per week may lower the risk of stomach, breast, and skin cancer, making it one of the top cancer-fighting foods. These same antioxidants have also been proven to decrease the risk of heart disease.

Nuts and legumes

Nuts and legumes (like peanuts) are great sources of plant-based protein, fiber, and heart-healthy polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats (“good” fats), but many people shy away from nuts because of their high fat content. However, clinical research suggests that moderate nut consumption is unlikely to contribute to obesity and may in fact aid in weight loss. Other epidemiologic studies have correlated nuts with reductions in coronary heart disease, gallstones, diabetes, hypertension, cancer, inflammation, cholesterol levels, and blood pressure. With their bevy of cardiovascular benefits, the American Heart Association recommends getting four servings a week of unsalted nuts like almonds, peanuts, pistachios, and walnuts.

Olive oil

Despite the high fat content, moderate amounts of olive oil are a key ingredient in the world-famous Mediterranean diet. People in the Mediterranean region who regularly consume olive oil have longer life expectancies and lower risks of heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and inflammation, compared to residents of North America and Northern Europe, and the monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) found in olive oil may be the reason why. MUFAs have been shown to lower total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels. And for those with type 2 diabetes, studies have shown that MUFAs can help regulate insulin and blood sugar levels.

Red wine 

This one is probably the most hotly debated among the super foods list. Like with chocolate, moderation is key to any health benefits of el vino since high alcohol consumption can cause increased triglyceride levels, high blood pressure, and liver damage…not to mention wine’s high calorie count. Yet numerous studies have shown that moderate amounts of red wine can lower the risk of diabetes, heart attack, stroke, and heart disease. It’s thought that the antioxidant resveratrol found in red wine may be responsible for preventing damage to blood vessels, reducing bad cholesterol, and preventing blood clots. But it’s not all rosy news: some studies have suggested red wine increases the risk of certain cancers and dementia, while other studies found a decrease. So the jury is still out on whether a glass of red wine should be a part of the doctor’s orders for a healthy diet.

Salmon

The American Heart Association recommends eating at least two 3.5 ounce servings per week of fatty fish, like salmon. That’s because salmon is low in saturated fat but high in omega-3 fatty acids, a “good” fat which can decrease the risk of abnormal heartbeats, reduce triglycerides, and slow plaque growth in the arteries. Omega-3 fatty acids also may help lower seniors’ risk of heart disease, depression, dementia, and arthritis.

The bottom line on super foods

For seniors, good nutrition is key to staying healthy and active as you age. In fact, a sensible diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean protein, low-fat dairy, and super foods can help prevent or slow the progression of many of the diseases and conditions that are so common among seniors, including high blood pressure and cholesterol, arthritis, and certain cancers.

 

The above content is provided by and with express written permission from My LifeSite | www.mylifesite.net.

 

 


Traveling With Your Aging Parents

With so many of us living with and caring for our parents, we are constantly searching for ways to incorporate that care into our daily lives…and our vacations.

Remember back when our travel plans required that we consider feedings, strollers, diaper changing, and playgrounds? Now, we are considering walkers, oxygen tanks, hydration, and benches for resting. It can be challenging to assure you have covered all your bases and to assure everyone will have a smooth, enjoying, and relaxing vacation. Click the link above to learn some tips that will help when traveling with your aging parents.

 

 


4 Tips for Talking to Parents About Assisted Living

As your parents age, there may come a time when they are not able to live as independently as before, whether because of a chronic illness, injury, or decline in general health. As an adult-child of an aging parent, it may fall upon you to begin the conversation about a move to a retirement community or even assisted living, depending on the degree of need. Having this conversation can be challenging and emotional, especially because the majority of aging Americans are more attracted to the idea of “aging in place” in their current home.

Here are four tips that will help you approach this fragile subject with empathy and openness that will put you and your loved one on the same page about this transition. To learn more, click the link above.

 

 


Caregiving Is A Marathon

Too often we underestimate the time obligation of caregiving. Adult children step up to be the primary hands-on caregiver having no idea that they may spend as much time caring for their parents as they spent raising their children.

We tend to think that we can burn the candle at both ends – that we can do it all. We think we can manage kids, career, spouse, house, and parents. If caregiving were a sprint, we could probably do it all. Unfortunately, it’s not. Caregiving is a marathon that you could easily spend 15 years focused on the health and well-being of your parents.

Further, this race is no one-man show, but rather a relay race. Your team will consist of siblings, an attorney or two, doctors, financial advisors, clergy, neighbors, geriatric specialists and more. Ask them for help.  Encourage them to notify you if they have concerns. Remember to have the HIPPA-compliant releases signed so you can access your parents’ medical records and speak freely to the professionals providing care. Work with your parents to obtain a Power of Attorney (POA) before you think you need one. Engaging the assistance of an attorney who specializes in eldercare will help assure you that you have covered all your parents’ needs and concerns.

Caregiving is certainly a marathon. If you prepare for the race, you will prevail.

 

This article was written by Barbara McVicker

 

 


Tip #18 of 50 – Where Do I Even Begin?

As The Wesley Communities approach 50 years of excellent service, our CEO Peg Carmany offers “Peg’s Perspective” on a variety of topics affecting seniors and their adult children as they plan and choose to age well – 50 tips to celebrate 50 years!

Tip #18 of 50 –  Where do I even begin?

If you are a senior living in your home or condo (or an adult child trying to help your parent or relative in this situation), you may know that living alone, for a variety of reasons, is not working. There may be a variety of obstacles in your world that make living at home either uncomfortable or perhaps impossible.   Eyesight or hearing loss is oftentimes a big contributor, along with failing physical strength. Laundry room in the basement, anyone? Driving at night sometimes becomes problematic, and eventually, driving at all is problematic.

So, where to begin? First, take heart. There are many options available to you, and they’re not nearly as overwhelming as you might imagine. To learn more about the options available to you when living at home alone is no longer working, click the link above.


Caregiver Assistance: Addressing Caregiver Stress

Caring for an aging family member is a labor of love. But study after study also shows the emotional, physical, and even financial stress that the caregiver incurs as a result.

Research conducted by MetLife revealed that approximately 10 million adult children over the age of 50 (that’s roughly a quarter of all Baby Boomers!) have taken on the role of caregiver for their aging parents, helping with a variety of tasks–everything from running errands and cooking to bathing and using the toilet. It’s a lot to take on, especially for caregivers who may also be juggling a career and their own children, which is likely why caregivers over age 50 who work and provide care to a parent are more likely to have fair or poor health as compared to peers who do not provide elder care.

A few other noteworthy stats from the study:

  • Adult daughters are more likely to provide help with daily care, and sons are more likely to provide monetary assistance.
  • The total estimated aggregate lost wages, pension, and Social Security benefits of these adult-child caregivers is nearly $3 trillion.
    • For women, the total individual amount of lost income (wages, Social Security benefits, pension) due to leaving the labor force early and/or reducing hours of work because of caregiving responsibilities averages $324,044. For men, it averages $283,716.*

Yet despite all of these physical and financial drawbacks, the adult-child-as-caregiver trend continues to grow rapidly in the United States. The MetLife study showed that the number of adult children providing personal care and/or financial assistance to an aging parent has more than tripled over the past 15 years.

Caring for the caregiver

It seems that caring for an aging parent is here to stay. So what can caregivers do to help alleviate some of the stress associated with the gig? Click the link above to learn more. 


Tip #17 of 50 – Why Not Just Move Into A Hotel For Your Retirement?

As The Wesley Communities approach 50 years of excellent service, our CEO Peg Carmany offers “Peg’s Perspective” on a variety of topics affecting seniors and their adult children as they plan and choose to age well – 50 tips to celebrate 50 years!

Tip #17 of 50 –  Why not just move into a hotel for your retirement?

You may have seen the cartoons and ads and articles that suggest (some in all seriousness) that the price of retirement home living is high so, “Why not just move into a hotel?” The article then usually goes on about the price per day, and usually concludes (inaccurately) that hotel living is the better deal financially. Click the link above to learn more about why retirement communities are far superior to hotels.


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Wesley Glen is absolutely wonderful. Mom has been there since May and she's in independent plus. It has everything from independent, independent plus, assisted living to memory care. They have lots of services, hairdressers and nail salons right at the facility. The food is good and mom absolutely loves it. The independent plus works great.

- Deborah19